VERMILION, OH (WOIO) - Could wearing a marijuana legalization button sink a veteran police captain on the Vermilion police force?
Capt. Mike Reinheimer wore a button that said, "I Support Legalize 2016," while conducting a police auction to raise money for the department over the weekend.
Mayor Eileen Bulan says promoting something political and illegal during official city business violates policy.
"They're not allowed to wear anything like that on their uniform. They can wear whatever they want on their own time, but they certainly can't do that while they are working for the city," she explained.
"You can't use your office to advocate a political issue," said Police Chief Christopher Hartung.
Over the phone, Reinheimer said he supports marijuana legalization because of his wife's battle with epilepsy. He said he knew he was in violation, but he didn't expect the ramifications to be so severe.
Neither did the mayor. She says she was bombarded with phone calls after his Facebook post was shared by Legalize Ohio 2016 about the issue.
"They were saying that we were denying him free speech, that he was right. They didn't agree with us," Bulan said.
Reinheimer says he was told the button was the reason he was put on leave on Monday. But Hartung says this wasn't the only reason, and Reinheimer has other questionable conduct and violations they're investigating, including a recent suspension for driving uninsured on a suspended license.
"There is a variety of issues. Can't get into them now. It's a substantial document," Hartung said.
The captain will have a pre-disciplinary hearing in front of the mayor, police chief and city law director to address this and other conduct in question. A recommendation will be issued within a week.
Reinheimer may lose his job, but he says he intends to fight any disciplinary action over this issue.